"Routine invasive" versus "selective invasive" approaches to non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes management in the post-stent/platelet inhibition era

William E Boden
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2003 February 19, 41 (4 Suppl S): 113S-122S
Is a "routine invasive" or "selective invasive" strategy the best approach for patients with non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome (ACS)? A "selective invasive" strategy incorporates ischemia-guided use of aggressive medical therapy followed by angiography and revascularization for angina or stress-induced myocardial ischemia. The "routine invasive" strategy (cardiac catheterization followed by percutaneous coronary intervention within 24 to 48 h of symptom-onset) is frequently employed, but no randomized, controlled trials have demonstrated improved clinical outcomes. Recently, the second Fragmin and fast Revascularization during InStability in Coronary artery disease (FRISC-II) and the Treat angina with Aggrastat and determine Cost of Therapy with an Invasive or Conservative Strategy-Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TACTICS TIMI-18) trials found significant reductions in death, recurrent myocardial infarction, or hospitalization for biomarker-positive ACS. Also, the third Randomized Intervention Trial of unstable Angina (RITA-3) recently reported a halving of refractory angina and reduction in the use of antianginal medication with early intervention. Early trials failed to demonstrate the superiority of the "routine invasive" approach, presumably because of fewer revascularizations, unavailability of stents, and more recent use of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors and low-molecular-weight heparins. The FRISC-II, TACTICS TIMI-18, and RITA-3 studies indicate that higher-risk patients benefit from early revascularization, but that aggressive antiplatelet, antithrombin, and anti-ischemic therapy are also important. While all three trials support an "early invasive" approach in intermediate- and high-risk patients, other trials support a more "conservative" approach in those without electrocardiographic changes or enzyme elevations. Optimal management should incorporate both strategies.

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